NEW YORK – The Houston Astros activated rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña from the injured list and optioned outfielder Chas McCormick to Triple-A Sugar Land on Sunday.
Star slugger Yordan Alvarez was out of the lineup with an ongoing hand issue as Houston tried to win its four-game series against the major league-leading New York Yankees. Alvarez hurt the hand on a swing July 18, sat out a game against the White Sox the next day and has played every game since.
Manager Dusty Baker said Alvarez’s hand is still sore, and the 24-year-old may need regular rest. The issue hasn’t affected Alvarez’s performance — he has hit four of his 22 home runs in the five games since the injury.
The 24-year-old Peña is a leading candidate for AL Rookie of the Year but hasn’t played since June 13, when he injured his left thumb diving for a catch.
Peña is hitting .277 with nine home runs, six stolen bases and an .805 OPS while playing stellar defense at shortstop. He has been a worthy replacement for Carlos Correa, a two-time All-Star who left Houston for Minnesota as a free agent this spring.
McCormick is hitting .219 with six homers and a .684 OPS in his second big league season. His demotion allows Houston to keep rookie J.J. Matijevic on the roster. Matijevic is just 2 for 14, but both hits have been home runs, including one against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole on Saturday.
Matijevic, primarily a corner outfielder and first baseman, hits left-handed, while McCormick bats righty.